Monochromatic icons = worst decision ever

I am a VFX-student at a vocational higher education in Sweden, located at a Campus.
I’ve been loving Blender since June 2016 but since the decision was made to use monochromatic icons I’ve since then been using only Bforartists.
My opinion is that monochromatic icons are the worst thing that ever happened to Blender.
One of the reason that I completely embraced and treasured Blender in 2016 was because of the UI, and the icons.
Blender made the decision to remove both the colors and the 3D-aspect from the icons, and now the icons are completely useless to me. I would have to rely on reading the text to know that I’m in edit mode, or finding modifiers etc, because there is no change to train up a “muscle/sight memory” for finding things anymore.

In Bforartists, they cleverly grouped things after color so that it is quick and easy to identify things, in which context they are placed, and the UI experience becomes a dance on roses, a beautiful things.

The monochromatic UI in Blender is depressing, sad, boring, and really confusing because the icons are worthless.

Sorry I do not wish to put a bad shade on Blender, it is the best software ever made. But If you do not agree with me about the UI then please do a poll/survey and simply ask people: Do they like the monochromatic UI or would they prefer a coloured one like Bforartists?

Because I am not sure this poll has been made or correctly been made if there ever was one.
Please hear my voice, Because I am in the business of making more Swedes use Blender on a professional level and I do believe I have an influence on this. I love Blender and want to make it known and used more in Sweden & Scandinavia. But currectly I can only recommend Bforartists because the UI is beautiful, kind & friendly, while Blender’s current monochromatic UI is extremely uncomfortable.

Please understand that monochromatic icons do not help to train up visual memory of where things are, on the contrary they block speed and production workflow, as well as not helping the user to learn the interface; Non-colored 2D icons in any UI, in my opinion, are insane.

Best Regards and Blessings.
I Pray for Blender, Ton Rosendal and The Blender Foundation.
// Daniel


Part of the reason why the monochromatic icons became the official set; The guy who made them was the one who stepped up to make sure Blender had a complete set.

In FOSS, a lot of development is dependent on community contributions, so if you would like to present an alternative icon design language, then make the set and present it to the developers.

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Its not that bad that you cant use it, that is exaggerated. A helpful thing (already said) would be to present a different system but just saying its bad is not helping anyone.

For the edit mode the mesh looks different and it was for a short term in a mint colour which was refreshing.

For the modifiers and constraints a simple colour in of the monochromatic icons is the easiest way without creating new icons. Finding suitable groups should not be that hard.

In the beginning the side tab with the modifier tab and render settings was also monochromatic and was changed to with constructive feedback its possible but not with a rant.

Personally I can use them well and I find no difficulty, they are elegant and well made, I would not want them to be colored or other changes, everything is well studied and balanced.
Maybe you just need to learn and train your eye.

I agree that icons are less distinguishable from one another and it makes general navigation (pattern seeking) appreciably harder. I really wouldn’t be against a second pass on them for simple color coding. No pressure, it’s livable, but yes I think we lost a little bit of accessibility there

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The ‘minimal color’ theme uses white for all icon colors. It is the only standard theme which uses icons in a monochrome way. Other standard themes use icon color theming.

Theming for 2.93 knows 7 groups of icon colors. If icon colors blends with the background, there is still

Preferences / Themes / User Interface / Icon Colors / Icon Border

It is a bit hidden, but it might be useful to increase crispness of icons.

It is sad to read that you disregard the new icon set as worthless. quote:

The monochromatic UI in Blender is depressing, sad, boring, and really confusing because the icons are worthless.

This kind of rhetoric requires much energy, why not instead use that energy to explore the Blender UI and experiment with theming?

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I am surprised by the use of the word “new” in this context, monochrome icons have been in the Blender for three years, that’s eight release versions.

And, yes, there is no designer here who could make a couple of new icons when developers need it, and you are talking about creating 700 icons.

Also don’t forget that there are two official themes, dark and light, meaning you will need two sets of icons. But, you are welcome.


I do a lot of time a proposal about that. In reality Blender doesn’t need to retouch all icons, with a little update in a minor part of the icon set and separate tintable icons from rest of icons (because some icons are used in various sites, and you cannot have it colored without tint)

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The problem of a monochrome interface is something we call a visual perception deprivation effect.

This effect can be easily reconstructed in coding by turning off code syntax highlighting, so the entire code will look sterile. Nothing will snap your attention, so you will have to read the entire code block in order to recognise the context of its parts and keep them in mind to work with them instead of just seeing them.

The same way, when entire interface elements are graphically equal you have to read it all in order to find the desired one, instead of percept it, which require more efforts and results in working speed loss, miss-clicks, etc.

In general, the control of a reading/perception speed is an important aspect of a UI design (icons, elements blocking and arrangement), since reading (shapes recognition) always consumes much more energy than perception.


Wow, I failed to express why I disliked the new icons so far, but that’s exactly it. Thanks for helping put words on it.

@Illasera it’s a real problem, yet it’s not a bug, and it’s hardly a feature request either. I don’t think this should be waved off so easily, there should be a discussion. Icons look great, but their monochromaticity has had me scanning the interface for probably hours during the past year. That’s an accessibility issue, where does it fit ? you tell me.

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Its a moot discussion, Let me tell you how it will work if it will go-on

People who enjoy the current color-scheme will back it up with their evidence.
People who dislike it like the OP will back it up with his literature and it will become a back and forward “He said she said” thread.

Also don’t we have “Themes” that you can add or remove?

First off, I’d be forever grateful if you did not dismiss the discussion. Thank you.

I think you misunderstand the issue : it’s not about the color scheme in Blender (which is fine as far as I’m concerned), neither is it about liking or disliking the icons (which by the way, users can’t change), it’s about fixing an accessibility issue caused by monochromaticity. The icons themselves are just fine, in fact I love them. It is about navigating the interface using symbols that look very similar to one another at a glance. I guess not everyone is equally sensitive to it, your mileage may vary… In my case it’s enough of a problem to try and bring it to attention. I can still work, but it gets exhausting fast.

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Whatever the answer might be, a visual demonstration on how we should do it right will have to be provided (A concept, You can not describe a visual problem with words)…
(rather If we group the icons differently, if we color them differently)

Which in the end, all falls onto someone who will redesign some icon sets if not the whole thing.

There are 3 places: is a place for artists/addons devs and other users (for artwork and addons).
Devtalk is a place both for core devs and users (for their communication, discussions. etc). is a place for core developers only (for Blender core development).

Don’t really want to get involved into this discussion here. But just take away a programmer the colored syntax highlighting. Then you know why the monochrome icons in Blender was a really bad idea. It describes the visual problem pretty much with one sentence. And it remains an issue that needs to be adressed at one point.

I get headache after ten minutes in Blender. Too stressful to the eyes.

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I quite like the monochrome icons. If the icons were very colorful they would distract from the colors of the image I’m actually trying to create.

But a slight hint of colour might make them easier to distinguish, that’s true.

In the end, like it was said before, this all hinges on someone creating a complete set of icons and his/her preference in the matter.

If someone would create a complete colored set, we could maybe consider icon themes? Because I guarantee you that as soon as we change (back) to colored sets there will be people who dislike that.

edit: sorry, was not really meant as a reply to you Arunderan…

No problem. I also got trapped here by the reply button. May i nevertheless answer? :slight_smile:

Such an iconset already exists in Bforartists. And be it just as an example how to not do the colored icons. It contains even as double as much as in Blender, an icon for nearly every tool available. This set has grown over 7 years, starting at the point where Blender had colored icons. And is of course not ideal. But it is functional. And could be used as a starting point.

So it’s not that somebody just needs to do some icons. It’s the other way around. When you would ask in the community, or when you would offer a way to customize the icons, then i am pretty sure that you would be thrown to death with iconsets very quick. But why should somebody spend months of work at something that will never be used? There was already more than once an attempt to allow custom icon sets. By png sheets for example. But they all fell asleep.

It’s about the will for a change, which is simply not there. Since the Blender developers doesn’t even see the problem.

It’s a chicken and egg thing I guess. As a volunteer developer that has no icon sets lying around it’s not the most inspiring project to work on.

I guess it will need someone with overlapping developer/design skills :wink:

The project is generally missing someone working fulltime on user experience. Harley does a great job in some areas, but he’s not a designer either as far as I know, and he’s a volunteer too.

fully agree. Humans have more cone cells in eye that allows for cognition of color compared to rod cells that understand shapes, so first thing human brain notice is colors and then uniquness and clarity and exageration of shapes also improve the cognition as secondary thing.Therefore, its biological thing. So first colors and then depth and shadows helps our cognition of things faster. But new icons doesnt have enough differentiation to make us understand things without spending more time and energy. I still miss that blue world icon and differentiation from material icon and many things that easily catched my attension. Also edit mode and object mode, I wouldnt read the text before now,I have to depend on text rather than icon.
Really wish someone who can put a option in preferences to use old icons or new icons, UI should always have classic & modern option to adress both groups of people.Its not hard to do, free photo editing software we all know (first letter is G) has option to have different icon sets, Also there can be a 3rd option of icons that are modern and colorful like BForartists, So it can adress totally 3 groups of people. I personally like 2.79 icons but BF are even better than current ones. BForartists also had iconset for 2.79 icons adapted to 2.8 version in its early releases so their developers would easily help adding icon sets in preferences to adapt all 3 iconsets, classic, modern, colorful modern as well as custom icon sheets. If someone made iconsets ready and create a patch to add this option, everyone would be happy. Even we had just that feature of custom icon sheets, after feature added, I m sure many different people will keep creating sheets and sharing so people could use any iconsheet they want, But blender just added some general color overlay to properties icons by thinking that problem is solved. Its really sad.